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The Realm of the Nebulae (The Silliman Memorial Lectures Series) Reprint Edition

3 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
ISBN-13: 978-0300187120
ISBN-10: 0300187122
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Editorial Reviews


"This enduring work is the closest we can get to Edwin Hubble’s personal thoughts as he broke open the boundaries of the universe in the early twentieth century. In this compelling summary of his historic observations of myriad galaxies swiftly moving outward in space-time, we see both his awe—and his doubts—over the new and surprising cosmos he had revealed. A true classic of scientific literature."—Marcia Bartusiak, MIT, author of The Day We Found the Universe

(Marcia Bartusiak)

About the Author

Edwin Hubble spent most of his illustrious career at the Mount Wilson Observatory, in Pasadena, California. Robert P. Kirshner is Clowes Professor of Science at Harvard University. Sean M. Carroll is Senior Research Associate at the California Institute of Technology.


Product Details

  • Series: The Silliman Memorial Lectures Series
  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press; Reprint edition (March 19, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300187122
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300187120
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,336,555 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This book is a piece of astronomy history, written in 1935 by Edwin Hubble, probably the most famous observational astronomer of his time, writing about his work (and the work of others) on extragalactic nebulae, i.e. galaxies. Hubble had use of the new 100 inch telescope on Mount Wilson, at the time the largest telescope on earth, so he was able to take more detailed photographs of galaxies than anyone before. Hubble today is remembered mostly for discovering the linear relationship between distance and velocity of galaxies.

It must be said that the writing in this book is clumsy, and that Hubble had a lot of quirks that are on full display here. Frankly Hubble was something of a twit. Consider, he was born in US and went to school in US (through PHD), but he adopted a British accent (plus british spelling, tweed jacket and pipe). Until the day he died he used the term 'nebulae' for galaxy, and most astronomers think this was mainly because a rival of his, Harlow Shapley, preferred galaxy.

In the first half of the 20th century determining 'velocity vs distance' meant recording spectrums (for red shifts) and taking photographs with a large telescope (to estimate distance). You might think that since Hubble is credited with determining velocity vs distance relationship for galaxies that he took both sets of data, but that is not right. From references in the book and from comments of the astronomers who wrote the many fowards of the book, it appears that ALL the spectrums, and presumably their interpretation to determine red shift, were done by others, principally Slipher who pioneered measuring galactic red shifts while Hubble was still a student and later Humason, who spent seven years using the 100 inch telescope obtaining the spectrums of fainter and fainter galaxies.
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The Realm of the Nebulae (The Silliman Memorial Lectures Series)
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